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Short Stories
Sudhir Naoroibam
       Joseph drives calmly, alone. He has taken great care of himself today. He is so well made up, looks so neat and prune. This is the first time in his life that he cared for his looks so extravagantly. That morning he took plenty of time shaving his long unshaven unruly sprout. Drops of cold water slowly ping-ponged off his head as he showered a slow trickle of water in the bath where he spent longish hours that same morning. It took eons for him to dress up. Funnier still, what a long time he consumed only in combing his hair! If he were combing what was left of the spare hair on his bald pate strand by single strand of hair, it would not have taken him that long. Today, Joseph did not begrudge time. But he had been a punctilious man who was filled with pain in losing a single minute on some irrelevant thing.
       The change in Joseph was not shared by Mary. Formerly she used to be in charge of his dresses, fussing over him every minute. Since the day Mary came into his life Joseph could not get the chance even of buttoning his shirt himself. But, Mary did not come near him today. She had not even enquired if he had forgotten anything as was her wont. She remained rooted where she had been sitting, her gaze fixed somewhere in the open sky. Her unseeing eyes were the eyes of a corpse, wide open but vacant. Joseph could not bear it. But mind, he did not. It is likely that he had also shown some neglectfulness on his part towards Mary recently.
       "If I must," Joseph said to Mary while departing, "I must go like this. Neat and clean. Like a gentleman. You should also take care of your looks. Make up yourself. I think you'd understand that the best thing is always to remain careful. Bye."
       Joseph lit a cigarette. His hands left the steering wheel for a few moments while lighting the cigarette. A careful driver Joseph was -he also could light his cigarette single handedly. But today he wanted suddenly to remove his hands from the steering wheel. What does it matter to do it for a few moments - the idea crept into his mind.
       He continued driving solemnly. The roads have changed visibly. They have become more beautiful and fresh looking. He had not been this side of the town since he finished college. He had lost track of many loving friends. Some of them might be no more, some alive. No other thoughts except those concerning life and death came into Joseph's mind at present.
       Joseph parked in front of a cemetery. He threw away the half smoked cigarette. He came out of the car unhurriedly and climbed up majestically the steps leading to the cemetery.
       Two places that are directly related to death Joseph knows. One of them is the morgue. The other is the cemetery. There is love and memory in the cemetery. Terror and suffering in the morgue. Joseph had not once been to the morgue in his life. He does not like to visit also.




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